Daily News Egypt

Dabaa nuclear project to provide 50% of electrical power to Egypt: Electricity ministry nuclear affairs and energy adviser - Daily News Egypt

Advertising Area

Advertising Area

Dabaa nuclear project to provide 50% of electrical power to Egypt: Electricity ministry nuclear affairs and energy adviser

Implementation delays cost $8bn annually, says Al-Osery

Nuclear Affairs and Energy Adviser at the Ministry of Electricity Ibrahim Al-Osery (DNE file photo)
Nuclear Affairs and Energy Adviser at the Ministry of Electricity Ibrahim Al-Osery
(DNE file photo)

The implementation of the Dabaa nuclear project has witnessed serious delays, despite implementations plans taking place at the end of the 1950s under former President Abdel Nasser according to Nuclear Affairs and Energy Adviser at the Ministry of Electricity Ibrahim Al-Osery.

Al-Osery, who served as a senior inspector at the International Atomic Energy Agency in the past, worked to implement Egyptian nuclear plans in Dabaa. The project has the potential to provide up to 50% of Egypt’s electric energy capacity, claimed Al-Osery.

He claimed that implementation delays cost the country approximately $8bn annually, adding that over the past 30 years Egypt has lost approximately $200bn.

Egypt is currently awaiting a decision from President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to begin implementation of a new national project revolving around nuclear powered electricity production through a tender offered for global bidding, according to Al-Osery.


We’ll start with the obvious question: why has Egypt not yet implemented its nuclear programme?

Yes, the historic question… let’s go back to the 1950s when Egypt resolved to produce electricity from nuclear power.

At the end of this decade Egypt worked to increase the capacity of its technical staff in Egyptian universities, sending them to friendly countries in order to be trained in nuclear programmes that would be implemented by Egyptian scholars. But Israeli aggression against Egypt in 1967 and the occupation of the Sinai Peninsula put an end to this programme.

Egypt’s first attempt to construct a nuclear reactor took place in Borg el Aral in Alexandria, but Israeli aggression against Egypt was one of the reasons that these ambitions were stalled.

Following the battle to liberate the Sinai Peninsula from Israel in October 1973, President Anwar Sadat hoped to revive the programme again in 1974 and agreed with US President Richard Nixon to implement two stations.

Two American companies offered to implement the project, but America imposed political conditions that Sadat refused.

What did Sadat do after he rejected US conditions?

Sadat was very determined to establish an Egyptian nuclear programme and attempt to overcome the energy crisis which loomed on the horizon in light of growing petroleum derivative consumption.

He developed a plan to construct eight stations through directing contracting, four of which had an electric capacity of 900 MW hours each, while the capacity of the four remaining stations would reach 1,200 MW hours each.

The capacity of energy produced from these stations was estimated according to Egypt’s electricity network at that time.

At present, Egypt’s total electric generation capacity amounts to 28,000 MW and the Dabaa nuclear project is expected to provide 50% of this capacity.

France offered to construct the first two stations and a shared working group was formed in order to transport nuclear technology[c1] . A French company conducted a study of the areas in which the reactor could potentially be constructed. Dabaa, west of Alexandria, was chosen as the site.

But the assassination of President Sadat in October 1981 delayed the project.

Why was the project delayed again in the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak?

Mubarak requested that bidding be offered for project implementation, which served to delay the project more than four years. The contracting style was changed to a bid, which delayed the project another three and a half years, and then the political situation since 25 January 2011 also played a part in postponing the project.

The project was offered as a tender and bids were received. Egypt was studied from technical and economic standpoints, but before project implementation was finalised, the Chernobyl accident took place in the 1980s in Ukraine, which served as a scapegoat on which more delays could be blamed.

Ukraine is an independent state with vast coal reserves. Nine nuclear stations were built following the incident and operations did not stop after the blast. At present, Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors for electricity generation.

Those who fear risks associated with nuclear energy are not specialists in the field, nor do they take into consideration the experiences of other countries.

Why have experts not appeared in the media to explain the importance of the project?

As I said before, the Chernobyl incident formed a scapegoat on which more implementation delays could be blamed by creating panic in the Egyptian street regarding the dangers of nuclear reactors.

How can this be explained?

It is no secret that the West fears Egypt having a nuclear programme. America imposed political conditions on Sadat for implementing two stations in 1974, but he refused to accept them.

But Egypt has announced more than once that its nuclear plan will be peaceful, despite the fact that neighbouring Israel does not promise the same.

But it is clear that there is a campaign against the project each time it comes out into the open again. Why is that?

Again, I say that those who launch these campaigns are not specialists and businessmen play a significant role in supporting the campaigns through the media outlets that they own.

People always recall the Chernobyl disaster, and because they are not specialists, they don’t know that Chernobyl was a boiling water reactor. The number of reactors under construction of this type are only four of a total of 70 reactors under construction across the world, representing 5.7% of the total.

These reactors account for only 5.9% of the total electric energy produced by nuclear energy around the world.

Can you explain more about the type of reactors under construction?

The number of reactors under construction around the world number 70 with a capacity of 66,682 MW hours and 59 normal pressurised water reactor reactions represent 84.3% of the total. These reactors produce 58,778 MW hours, or 88.1% of total nuclear-powered electricity.

Reactors that operate on boiled water, like that of Chernobyl, number only four across the world.

Only one gas-cooled reactor exists at present. It produces 200 MW hours representing 0.3% of total production.

What kind reactors will be constructed on the Dabaa site?

The nuclear reactor that will be constructed in Dabaa after the president issues his decision will be a normal pressurised water reactor. No radioactive leaks have occurred in these types of reactors since the 1950s.

There are 275 nuclear reactors of this variety out of a total of 437 operational reactors worldwide.

How much will it cost to construct the Dabaa power plant?

Initial costs for the two reactors are estimated at $4bn each. Various requisites for the project have been implemented, including the construction of two nuclear power plants with a capacity ranging between 900-1,650Mw in order to allow all companies to apply for the tender.

The winning company will be chosen after its bid is studied from financial and technical standpoints.

According to the specifications stipulated by the Ministry of Electricity, the supplying company is obligated to cover 85% of foreign component costs.  Loan repayment will include a grace period which will depend on the offer presented.

Payment for power plant construction costs will take place through the difference between the cost of nuclear fuel and cost of natural gas or oil.

Implementation delays cost the country approximately $8bn annually—over the past 30 years Egypt has lost approximately $200bn.


But aren’t some countries beginning to abandon nuclear energy?

You must mean Germany. Germany generates 40% of its energy through coal, 14% from natural gas, 30% from nuclear energy. The remaining portion is generated through new and renewable energy such solar, hydro-power, and wind.

Germany now regrets its decision to halt the construction of nuclear power plants to generate energy.

German demand for energy is different than that of Egypt; the former displays population growth of no more than 0.6%, while the latter exceeds 2%. This means that a great demand for electric power exists, which Germany can obtain from Europe’s unified network.

In spite of Germany’s experiment, 437 operational reactors worldwide currently exist worldwide, mostly in European countries and the United States. The UAE recently announced that it hopes to establish two reactors in cooperation with South Korea, even though the UAE is an oil rich country.

Iran, also an oil-rich country, has its own reactor and has plans to construct another.

Saudi Arabia just allocated $200bn to construct 17 reactors. As the largest oil exporter in the world, is Saudi Arabia experiencing a power generation deficit?

What about China, which has one of the largest coal reserves in the world? China is currently constructing 27 nuclear plants in addition to another 22 already in operation, while France has 58 operational reactors and one under construction.

What about the recent Fukushima accident in Japan?

The leaks that occurred in Fukushima occurred in a type of reactor that operates on boiling water, the same variety as the Chernobyl reactors.

Nevertheless, Japan has two nuclear power plants under construction, a fact that contradicts the opinions of non-specialists against the construction of nuclear reactors.

What is your opinion of the recently announced tariff for households and investors that purchase new and renewable energy?

I cannot give an opinion on the technical aspects of this as it is outside the realm of my specialty, but the decision is considered a major shift in state policy on Egypt’s energy mix, which is something we’ve been awaiting for years.

New and renewable energy sources alone aren’t sufficient to combat the energy crisis experienced by Egypt. A strategy of expanding industrial investments over the coming months is in place, and projects recently announced by the state affirm this strategy.

No state in the world has a socio-economic programme that depends on new and renewable energy sources only. Countries instead rely on five sources in different proportions represented through the energy mix, while the details of this mix depend on each state’s capacity and economic circumstances.

Solar energy cannot be depended on as an alternative to nuclear energy, serving only as an additional source of energy. Nor is solar energy an intensive source of power, as capacity ranges between 5-11 acres for each MW hour.

This means that producing 1,000 MW in solar plants requires 72-216 KM2.

Solar plant maintenance is very expensive and must be carried out weekly and monthly, as solar energy mirrors lose 50% of capacity if they are not cleaned for one month. On average they should be cleaned every three days, but this can vary according to the country, the amount of dust present, and the weather.

Is solar energy more expensive than nuclear energy?

It is. The cost of producing 1 KWh in solar energy is four times more expensive than that of nuclear energy when costs incurred after the station is no longer operational are taken into account.

What do you have to say about the Dabaa site?

The Dabaa location accommodates four to eight stations with a nuclear capacity of 900-16,500 MW, and locational studies take four years on average.

Transitioning to an alternative location would cost $26bn-50bn on top of funds already spent on the location.

Advertising Area

Advertising Area

24 responses to “Dabaa nuclear project to provide 50% of electrical power to Egypt: Electricity ministry nuclear affairs and energy adviser

  1. The North Coast of Egypt is vulnerable to tsunami which is what destroyed the lighthouse of Pharos in the last two millennia. Here in California we just had an earthquake in a fault that has been inactive for over two thousand years. Even if a catastrophe does not occur just the loss of the nuclear plant would be big for Egypt and should be avoided.

    1. Even in the event of a magnitude 9.0 Earthquake and historic Tsunami Nuclear plants can survive intact. This was proven by several sites in Japan in 2011. The lone exception was a plant that didn’t adequately protect its back up power generators, and as a consequence cooling water could not be pumped and the meltdown occurred. However the plant that melted down survived both the quake and tsunami intact, it was only a loss of diesel generators that caused the whole problem long after the natural events had occured. In other words – structurally the containment basic structures of all of Japan’s nuclear plants withstood the forces of the unprecedented Earthquake and Tsunami.

      New nuclear plants are different than the ones in Japan because they feature reservoirs of cooling water above the reactor that can gravity feed coolant into the reactor in the event of power loss. They can do this for up to 3 days and the plants also feature additional backup power to pump water. In other words, were a new reactor design implemented in Fukushima at the time of the event, the radiation release would not have occurred.

      Modern nuclear power plants can be sited safely in seismically active areas.

      1. One of my concerns is that the Japanese are the most disciplined on earth and even then its was chaotic and 20,000 died. The critical factor that fails in situations like these is the one you have not allowed for, I am not sure what it will be but it will not be the same one. If such an event happened it worries me that people would just drop what they are doing and take off in a panic. However, we know the Egyptian military has exhibited this level of discipline and maybe if they ran it they could do it safely but I have not known a civilian group that could maintain this level of vigilance and attention to detail in the face of catastrophic events when authority and great judgement are required. I still think solar is the way to go.

        1. 16,000 died from the Earthquake and Tsunami, Zero from the meltdowns according to the World Health Organization.

          Solar photovoltaic does not provide energy according to demand, so it is not practical as a major contributing energy source. Solar Thermal however allows the possibility of heat storage so that electricity can be generated according to demand. However Solar Thermal is quite expensive and Egypt would need an enormous Solar Thermal plant to provide a large proportion of energy needs with this source.

          Historically speaking, western designed nuclear reactors have been astonishingly safe with lower deaths per unit energy produced than any other source. The only nuclear catastrophe was Chernobyl, and that event involved a soviet reactor technology built without outer reactor containment. Outer reactor containment is now not only required on every reactor, but has to be missile and earthquake resistant.

          1. The photovoltaic on the periphery of lake Nasser where ninety percent of the evaporation occurs would save water. Based on my crude estimate 15 percent of inflow to outflow is lost, the High dam grid can be used at night with water release and by day with solar panels floating on the periphery of the lake. Green credits, inhibition of evaporation, alternation with high dam grid use, new micro industry, ongoing employment making and replacing panels. Integrative thinking is needed not just solid one dimension plans that require a level of social organization and discipline and political stability not available in Egypt. If the Libyan invaders or their tribal cohorts were to storm it, for example, what would happen? If something like Syria or Iraq now were to occur with lawlessness, I leave it to your imagination as to what kind of black mail or Samson like behavior would follow. It can become a magnet for megalomaniacs and terrorist who want revenge against the state.

          2. As someone not familiar with the social situation in Egypt I can’t comment on whether nuclear is appropriate in that region. My point was more generally that if globally we do not beginning building more nuclear plants we will likely be unable to move away from hydrocarbon combustion to the extent that we should – as even your example of PV panels, while beneficial, would still leave society reliant on fossil fuels for the majority of their energy.

          3. I agree, the fossil fuel dilemma is upon us and staying on that course is folly itself..it just worries me that one brings in a very complex technologic setup with vital protocols that require one hundred percent completion into a semi developed setting creating a new locus of danger and vulnerability to loss. For example, when you look at the recent reports on how fossil fuel power generation occurs now-i think correction of this situation should be a condition to proceed which is to show proof of competence by taking care of what there is now which is barely happening. Saying, oh, this will be different, begs the crucial question.

          4. I better understand your view now. Nuclear power is a great environmental solution for stable countries, but perhaps not Egypt.

        2. I think you’re giving the Egyptian military too much credit in the discipline department required to run a nuclear program. This is after all the same institution which dicovered the cure for HIV and H virus and another host of diseases!
          One thing they do well though is to put down any civilian unrest while managing 40 % of the country’s GDP output.

          1. It is strange that just today estimates of the grey economy in Egypt are about 50 percent and if the Army as you say controls another 40 percent then the entire Egyptian visible economy must account for zero. I think you are exaggerating. Third world countries cannot pay for armies so they allow the army to use its capabilities to generate income to maintain itself plus provide some services to current and retired and their families.

          2. You need to redo your math. the fact you felt compelled to rebuttle my point without getting the numbers correct is part of Egypt education problem.
            Assuming that your estimates of 50 % is correct. So if 50% of economy is informal (grey as you described it), the army controls 40 % of the remaining 50 % which is formal.
            As for the argument that 3rd world countries need to allow their armies to become for-profit corporations to survive, I am speechless!

          3. If the ten percent I omitted hurts so much maybe it can be ascribed to military production but I think you are the one who needs to look at your position, you offer nothing but trivia.

          4. Despite breaking it down for you you still managed to get it wrong. Got to admit I didn’t realize how thick you are. Marc Twain once said ” Never argue wih stupid people they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience “.
            Clearly I failed to heed that advice. Continue to enjoy being a slave to your junta masters!

          5. I have known Mark Twain myself quite well and he is innocent of you except that it is you he meant by stupid..

          6. HIs words ring true as though actually with us and I can hear his voice telling you to shut your stupid mouth and leave Egypt alone. Egypt does not need people like you spewing venom and acting superior, donkey.


  2. please invest in alternative energy….the cost of ‘dealing’ with radio active waste in itself should make this in-vaible, not to mention the irreparable damage caused by a disaster. It can not just be switched off if anything goes wrong. Hitachi who built the one in Fukushima guaranteed the people it was safe, well it wasn’t. Please be forward thinking, and invest in solar and wind, to avoid future disasters.

  3. It’s beyond me that someone like this could head the nuclear programe any country, let alone a country the size of Egypt. I feel sorry for those whose these buffoons in power

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Breaking News

No current breaking news

Receive our daily newsletter